Iraqi Mob Mutilates US
Troops Killed By Guerrillas

By Phil Reeves
The Independent - UK

TIKRIT -- Moments after Iraqi guerrillas killed two American troops yesterday, a crowd swarmed to the car and began pummelling the soldier's bodies with concrete blocks.
Witnesses to the assault in the northern city of Mosul said the mob mutilated the blood-drenched bodies, rifled through their pockets, looted their four-wheel-drive civilian car, smashed the windows and tried to set it on fire.
One man was seen brandishing a wad of blood-soaked Iraqi dinars, apparently stolen from the men. Bahaa Jassim, one of those who saw the attack, said the soldiers' vehicle smashed into a wall after they were shot and that the crowd stole their weapons and backpacks.
The attack was unusually ferocious, even by the ruthless standards of this seven-month conflict. It dealt a blow to the US strategy of promoting the view that the majority of Iraqi civilians are on the side of the "coalition", and that its only enemy is a small number involved in armed resistance.
"They hate Americans round here," said one Iraqi on-looker. "They've been doing many raids around here, so it's not surprising they were attacked."
Reports from Iraqi witnesses said the soldiers' throats had been slit and that they had been stabbed. A spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division, which the two men belonged to, said they had been shot. He said that they had been attacked when travelling between US military bases.
It was the latest in a surge of attacks in Mosul, where two Black Hawk helicopters crashed into one another a week ago after guerrillas hit one with a missile. It killed 17 American soldiers in the deadliest single strike against US forces since the occupation began. Two Iraqis were killed on Saturday after a bomb in an orange cart exploded alongside a passing American convoy.
The attacks were on the same day as the United States' vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Peter Pace, was visiting Iraq. Speaking inside the headquarters of the 4th Infantry Division, a heavily marbled palace built by Saddam in Tikrit, the four-star general said he had arrived to thank the troops, who on Thursday celebrate Thanksgiving.
But his visit was too late for the two men in Mosul, as it was for the 183 other American soldiers who have been killed in action since President George Bush declared major combat operations to be over on 1 May. It was also too late for a third American soldier who was killed yesterday by a roadside bomb attack on a US convoy in Baquba, close to the Iranian border.
Such attacks have become a daily event, and have highlighted the US army's inadequate number of armoured Humvees.
There were two other roadside mine explosions in Fallujah, one of which injured six Iraqis. The other hit a US convoy, but caused no injuries.
Twenty miles south of Baghdad guerrillas continued their campaign to try to prevent the Americans from re- establishing an effective civil police by killing the chief of police in Latfiyah.
The occupation forces in Iraq are on heightened alert amid warnings of increased attacks to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Civilian flights from Baghdad were suspended at the weekend after airport officials confirmed a DHL cargo plane had been hit on the wing by a ground-to-air missile, forcing an emergency landing.
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd




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